A Book Apart

Meet the Team: Caren Litherland

Jan 14, 2021

ABA logo

Next up in our Meet the Team series  is Caren Litherland, another one of our awesome editors. She shares her favorite things about New York City, explains how her view is the best thing about her workspace, and lets us in on her passion for photography.

ABA: What do you do at ABA? (What did you do prior? Or if part-time, what other work do you do?)

Caren Litherland: Edit! After moving from New Haven to New York, I worked as a designer for several years. I worked in-house at a series of big architecture firms on proposals, books, and other promotional stuff; after that, I started developing websites, from concept through execution, including content. These were primarily very straightforward, standards-compliant, HTML slash CSS slash a bit of JS brochure sites set in Verdana and Georgia, but I admit that I got very into Flash for a while 🙈. Throughout all of this, type, the history of type, and typography have been major touchstones for me. Outside of ABA, I work on editorial projects with clients around the world, mainly in the type industry.

ABA: Where do you live and what do you love about your home?

CL: I live in New York. I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, MoMA, the Whitney, Coney Island, Film Forum, the New York Botanical Garden, hand-painted signs, the sound of a basketball bouncing on pavement, architectural and other public lettering, the Strand, neon, bridges, taco trucks, the subway, density, people, the Type Directors Club, riding the bus, cemeteries, parks, walking, and food. Especially the food.

Close up of tile in subway.

Mosaic lettering in the New York City Subway.

ABA: What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

CL: Coffee. I grind it by hand using a little ceramic burr grinder and fresh beans from my local coffee shop.

ABA: When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

CL: I need to get my beloved rangefinder camera fixed. I used to shoot over a hundred frames a day. One of my very favorite things to do is walk around the city and take pictures. It helps me see and think. Few things are more relaxing or interesting for me than pressing the shutter. Aside from that, I am extremely devoted to my dogs, around whom my life revolves. I have a magical, raggedy, tank-like Welsh Springer Spaniel named Linus, who is quite old and fragile now; and a semi-feral former street dog named Tulip whom I adopted from the United Arab Emirates (it’s a long story). Tulip looks like a deer, behaves like a cat, and is just generally a highly unusual animal. I grew up with dogs and have had dogs almost my entire life, except for a protracted period when I was in school. Dogs plunge through the world nose first, always curious. We can learn a lot from them.

Portrait of white and tan dog sitting on grass.


Portrait of tan dog sitting on couch.


ABA: What’s your favorite thing to come home to after a long day outside of the house?

CL: I work from home. At the end of a long day, I like going outside. :)

ABA: What book have you read and loved lately?

CL: I recently read and loved Lonely Letters by Ashon Crawley, Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips, and Our Dogs, Ourselves by Alexandra Horowitz. I’m currently reading Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, A *New* Program for Graphic Design by David Renfurt, Breathe by Imani Perry, and Poetics of Relation by Édouard Glissant. Plus I read a ton of newspapers, magazines, and journals.

ABA: What traits of yours are you most proud of?

CL: Empathy and perseverance.

ABA: Is there a quote or saying that inspires you to be yourself or do your best work?

CL: Chop the wood, carry the water.

ABA: How do you make working remotely work for you?

CL: Remote work is definitely not for everyone, but for me it’s ideal. I’m happiest and most productive working remotely. So for me zero effort was involved in making remote work work. I’ve always embraced it. In my experience, working remotely involves more focus on the work itself, and communication about the work tends to happen through writing. Documentation is created as a matter of course, as you go along—whether via email, in Slack, in something like Basecamp, in GitHub, or a combination of all of the above. I find that helpful.

ABA: What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

CL: The view. I have a very large corner window from which I can see plenty of natural light, trees, birds, the neighbors across the street, and the occasional fighter jet or police helicopter. I’m so lucky.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

CL: Self-doubt is my default state. So I exercise, (try to) practice good sleep hygiene, eat healthfully, listen to music, walk around the city, and play with my dogs. And take pictures when my camera is working.

ABA: What industry trend or technology are you excited about?

CL: Variable fonts.

ABA: What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without to get you through a week?

CL: Instapaper, iA Writer, gdocs, Slack, and Twitter 

ABA: Is there anyone you’re following the work of right now, who you’d recommend others pay attention to?

CL: Too many to mention. Off the top of my head: keep an eye on Future Fonts. AI Now Institute is doing incredibly important, righteous work. I’m super interested in Tré Seals’s Vocal Type project. Boston Review. ProPublica. Places. Sara Ahmed. I learn tons from AAIHS. I’m incredibly impressed (and grateful) that Letterform Archive has opened up its archive for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Fonts In Use is another fantastic resource for anyone interested in type. Pay attention to anything Alphabettes does; I love my fellow ’bettes.

ABA: Is there a piece of professional or life advice you’ve gotten that has always stuck with you? What is it?

CL: My lovely late parents were adamant about something that sounds deceptively simple: no one is better than anyone else, and everyone deserves respect. Those are words to live by. And my dear, dear mom taught me always to fight for what is right and never to give up. I miss them both so much.


••• Get to know more of the people who make A Book Apart go—browse the rest of our Meet the Team series!

PS: Our next title is launching February 9th! Learn more about Sustainable Web Design by Tom Greenwood—and preorder now!